Sure, we give our pups lots of playtime, treats and affection, but what about training? Is your dog groomed as often as its breed requires? Is your pup wearing a collar with tags and permanently identified with a microchip to maximize its chances of being returned to you if it becomes lost? Whether you're a first-time or longtime dog owner, here's what should be on a responsible owner's "to-do" list:
. Ensure that you provide the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation appropriate for your pet's age, breed and energy level.
. Take care of your dog inside and out with regular grooming, quality food and veterinarian appointments. Keep all vaccinations current.
. Identify your dog with a collar tag and tattoo or a microchip ID. If you use a microchip, make sure to enroll your dog in a pet recovery service such as AKC Companion Animal Recovery (www.akccar.org) and keep your contact information updated.
. Socialize your pooch via exposure to new people, places and other dogs.
. Recognize the necessity of basic training by teaching a reliable "sit," "stay" and "come." Make sure your dog is regarded as a good citizen by your neighbors and the community.
. On walks, adhere to local leash laws and pick up and properly dispose of your pet's waste.
. Recognize that your dog's welfare depends on you, and never overlook your responsibilities for this living being.